March 2012: State of the Game

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On March 16th the Guild Wars 2 Wiki managed to schedule an exclusive interview with ArenaNet, on the condition that all organisation was taken care of by the wiki community itself. After a series of discussions spanning two article talk pages, three user talk pages, and an image talk page, a number of users were sent forth with the prepared questions.

ArenaNet's Colin Johanson provided the answers, including some shocking news that had not yet been leaked.

Interview transcript

Wiki: "First and foremost, we’d like to thank ArenaNet for finally providing their official wiki community with an exclusive interview. We know we’ve hammered on the fact that we’d love to have an opportunity to pose questions firsthand for a while now, but we never actually dared hope you’d take us up on the offer. It’s amazing to finally sit here, questions in hand and ready for an interview. I just hope you guys are too, because these questions have really been thought out to the very core, so this will definitely not be your average interview."

Colin: "Haha, it’s not that we never considered an interview with the official wiki before. In fact, we have pondered it many times, but we worried that it might be a massive chaos to answer questions on an open wiki. Even Reddit has some form of edit privacy, so we much sooner decided to have an open interview there. But now that I can tell the wiki is in unison about this interview, as well as its interviewers, we definitely wanted to do what seemed impossible in the back of our collective head. Rest assured, we’re ready for this!"

Wiki: "We should open with some simple questions that have been lingering for a while now. One of those questions regards the common tongue of Tyria; New Krytan. The official wiki has still not completed a full alphabet of New Krytan glyphs. Will we have to wait until after release to turn into New Krytan experts, or is there a possibility that we complete our collection beforehand?"

Colin: "I’d love to say yes to that possibility, but unfortunately we intend to keep New Krytan in the dark like this. It should be the players exploring the language by themselves, instead of us providing the facts and glyphs just like that. New Krytan is really our most interactive easter egg."

Wiki: "I believe Ree mentioned in an interview that ArenaNet has its own official wiki, where all the information about the game is stored and organized. Is it possible that this wiki will render the community-run wiki unnecessary."

Colin: "I wouldn’t be too worried about that. The official wiki itself has done an excellent job thus far, and therefore we see no need to release our wiki to the public at this time. In addition, our information storage wiki is just a place to sort our ideas. We use a complex system of shorthand—we call it Asuran, as a reference to the industrious little geniuses—on that wiki, and I doubt it would prove useful to the gaming population at large."

Wiki: "Thank you. Many of us on the official wiki have put in countless hours making it a comprehensive and helpful reference for when ‘’Guild Wars 2’’ is finally released. Will there be some form of in-game recognition, such as special hats, for those of us who have helped?"

Colin: "We’ve been trying to figure out cool ways to reward our devoted wiki-users for their hard work. Many of them will find they have in-game NPCs, similar to what we did with distinguished users in the original series. We’re considering also offering some equipable item, but what form that would take is still undecided."

Wiki: "What about wiki-integration? It has been said that Guild Wars 2 will have significantly improved wiki access, but how specifically will you incorporate it?"

Colin: "The wiki integration is primarily focused on being a smooth and flawless transition from the game to the wiki.. By typing /wiki, the person can pull up the pages they need right in the game. In addition, the game will have software where players can do things such as toggle the wiki walkthroughs of events and dungeons straight into the game."
"We’ll also be incorporating Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Whenever you complete specific objectives such as finishing meta-events, completing dungeons, or getting achievements, the option will be available to post the accomplishment on your live feed. Guild Wars 2 players who click the link receive chances to get awesome free stuff, including unique armor only available through social networking. Do note that these exclusive freebies are weaker than items available in-game, as well as only temporarily available."

Wiki: "I know this has been asked before, but when will we finally discover the true identity of ‘Bubbles the Deep Sea Dragon.’ The nature—and even the name—of this particular figure are shrouded in mystery. Could you guys tell us even a little bit about the water dragon?"

Colin: "The nature of ’Bubbles’ is intentionally shrouded in mystery. The dragon is supposed to be weird; Tyria is a massive and diverse continent with the strange, the beautiful, and the terrifying. I can tell you that Bubbles will be encountered underwater, though it is not exactly what you expect."

Wiki: "So, when will the game finally ‘be ready?’ It’s been ‘getting ready’ for many years and I suspect a large portion of the gaming population thinks it will be the next big vaporware. You could make changes to improve it indefinitely, but when will ArenaNet decide that enough is enough and release it?"

Colin: "Well, to be honest; the official release will have to be slightly postponed due to rebalancing issues with the Elder Dragons. Now, I know that this news will cause some form of shock but please hear us out first. It’s important that we get this news across clearly and completely."
"When we first designed Zhaitan—the main antagonist of the initial release—we wanted to make it a real challenge to bring Zhaitan down, only possible through a combination of personal storyline(s) and limiting the amount of players per fight. We soon realized that this approach clashes with our ideals of having a persistent, open world. From that moment on we have started to explore other options. We’re redesigning the genre altogether after all, this no less. We have decided to restructure, but mainly rebalance the Elder Dragons."
"We wanted to make players experience the true prowess of the Elder Dragons. These rebalancing processes aspire exactly that. We don’t want every clash with an Elder Dragon to feel anticipated, expected, clearly a choice of AI to act as best as it can be programmed. Whilst the first time fighting a specific Elder Dragon it will obviously be unique and unpredictable, but after that the battle would just be the same thing all over again; there is nothing new in a second battle, compared to a first."
"And our solution isn’t one you’d expect of a professional team like ours, or anyone’s. Our solution surpasses AI completely. We have chosen to exclude AI from the battle with Elder Dragons. Every battle with an Elder Dragon will be fully open, persistent. Everyone can interject with the battle at any time, much like any dynamic event. But the difference with dynamic events is the fact that the objective isn’t controlled by an AI script. The objective is controlled by an actual player. Or rather, an actual member of our team. We’ve stationed various team members to take a shot at playing the Elder Dragon Zhaitan from release day onward. There is no roster we’re giving out, so you’ll never know who is playing Zhaitan at any given time. But in the end, you’re never fighting a computer. We’ve turned the team you support into the team you might end up despising, because they will be your main antagonist soon."

Wiki: "Wow, err, okay! That’s rather interesting a concept to hear. You guys will be our enemy? I hope that works out as well as it does in my mind, because that is a golden idea right there! Anyway, before I can rabidly document this new information, there are still a bunch of questions I have to pose. You’re definitely not making this interview easy on us. On with the next question, or rather, the previous one in a slightly different context; how will these changes of course impact the release date? Not looking for an official release date here, but rather the amount of time you wish to further invest into the development process. Will we have to wait at least another year longer or has the team worked hard enough to not delay it all that much even with this change of plans?"

Colin: "Oh, right. Got a little carried away there, sorry! Right. We understand that all of our fans have been waiting long enough, so we will not rest until we're absolutely ready to push these changes live. Our release is still scheduled for early-mid 2013, contrary to earlier promises. We’re sorry about that one, we really did mean the whole of the Chinese new year."

Wiki: "2013? I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I was expecting it to be released sometime in 2012. Was the 2013 release date always the plan, or was it due to some unexpected complications? Also, does the extra time until release mean that we can expect more surprises when the game finally does open?"

Colin: "Yes. Leaks and breaches of NDA aside, we’ve always been planning a 2013 release, preferably at the very start to poke fun at the end-of-the-world madness. The impact of our plans changing only pushes release a few months later into the year."
"That said, the Elder Dragons change is not the only thing our team can work on to progress development. We’re most definitely using this extra time to expand our game somewhat further. It’s been deemed alright by the Mike to inform you of the development effort we’ve put into something new, yet very old. Due to this postponing of the release, we have considered older concept art that was originally intended for Guild Wars Utopia. It has always been too amazing to leave it out of our series. After debating within the company, we have decided to develop and include the Chronomancer and the Summoner in the initial release of Guild Wars 2."

Wiki: "The Chronomancer and the Summoner? Is this a head-start for the upcoming April Fools’ prank? Where I started doubting the validity of the Elder Dragon change, this is even more of a shock. Why include these two, or new professions in general now?"

Colin: "The Chronomancer and the Summoner are our gems of old. They never truly fit into the original Guild Wars series, but their style of gameplay would fit perfectly in a dynamic game as Guild Wars 2. We saw the window of opportunity much too late, but because of our new schedule we have found the time to work them out and put them in the game."

Wiki: "How will these two professions wrap up the full list of playable professions? There were two soldiers, three adventurers, and three scholars. No matter how you rearrange them, there will always be one too many to keep the numbers aligned."

Colin: "Yet the answer is simple. We point back to our first success. the original Guild Wars. After all the campaigns were introduced we ended up with two “soldiers,” the paragon and the warrior; three “adventurers,” the assassin, the dervish and the ranger; and five “scholars,” the elementalist, the mesmer, the monk, the necromancer, and the ritualist. That trend returns in Guild Wars 2, where you will find two soldiers, three adventurers and five scholars, which means the Chronomancer and the Summoner will both be wearing light armor. We’ll have blog posts up to “reveal” these two new professions soon."

Wiki: "I think I can safely say we’re all looking forward to those posts already. But all of this news does provoke another question; is there anything else we should be expecting? Now that you did find the time, perhaps development can focus on empty areas such as the Crystal Desert?"

Colin: "The Crystal Desert is already being worked on behind the scenes, but that content is certainly scheduled for a big patch somewhere after release. At least our fans will still have something to look forward to within Tyria, haha."

Wiki: "I guess that’s fair. The whole game in one release would probably keep us occupied for much too long to enjoy the content until a next big patch, yet leaves us wanting more. Are there any mechanics included into the game that will give us something to do if all else might miraculously fail?"

Colin: "We certainly hope our content will always remain entertaining, no matter what. But in the event that you do find yourself lacking entertainment, a certain great-great-great-great grandson of a certain traveller will travel across Tyria constantly to make you laugh."

Wiki: "I can’t wait to see his companion, then. And with that we’ve officially ran out of questions for this interview."

Wiki: "We thank you for joining us, Colin. Here’s to hoping you or someone else from ArenaNet will be back to speak to us. On behalf of the entire wiki, we would like to thank you for this interview."

Colin: "Thank you, and no problem. We’re happy to show the official wiki the occasional official support."